The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 30, 2013

News & Eagle's top stories: Earthquakes No. 6

Staff reports
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid and northwest Oklahoma experienced a little bit of everything in 2013.

As usual, there were significant weather issues. Less likely — or so everyone thought — was the chance of the ground moving underneath our feet, but earthquakes proved to be a regular occurrence throughout the state.

The city of Enid had its ups and downs, the future of Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid remained bleak and crime, unfortunately, took center stage more often than anyone wanted.

Staff members of the News & Eagle recently took a look back at 2013 and selected the top 10 stories of the year.

Here is a look at the stories that ranked 10 through six. The top five stories of the year will be presented in Wednesday’s edition.

No. 10 — Enid City Manager Eric Benson announces he will retire at the end of 2014.

Benson, Enid’s top public official for eight years, announced in August that 2014 will be his last as city manager.

His tenure has been marked by a number of accomplishments but also controversy.

Relations with city employees improved during Benson’s tenure, some $46 million has been spent on street repairs, a good safety program has been instituted and technology has been advanced.

The most controversial part of his tenure has been Enid Renaissance Project, which included building Enid Event Center and renovating Convention Hall.

The project moved forward after voters had rejected a bond issue to pay for much of the work.

No. 9 — Koch Nitrogen announces $1 billion expansion project.

A major part of the project will be construction of a urea fertilizer plant at the facility east of Enid.

The Koch Nitrogen facility here already is one of the largest fertilizer production plants in North America, producing ammonia, liquid fertilizer and granular urea.

The expansion will increase fertilizer production locally by more than 1 million tons per year.

Koch expects up to 800 new construction jobs while the project is under way, and 20-30 new permanent jobs.

No. 8 — County voters approve Sunday liquor sales.

Garfield County voters went to the polls in October and approved a proposition to allow restaurants and clubs to sell liquor on Sundays.

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the plan, with nearly 69 percent of those casting ballots approving the idea.

 Restaurants and clubs now can sell alcohol between 10 a.m. and midnight Sundays. It also allows liquor sales on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, but keeps Thanksgiving and Christmas dry.

Supporters said the issue was one of economic development. They said the county missed out on several new restaurants coming here previously because of the law banning Sunday alcohol sales.

Garfield County commissioners did not set the vote, but rather required supporters to bring the proposal to a vote through an initiative petition.

No. 7 — Businesses open in the old Homeland building.

The old Homeland building at Garriott and Oakwood, which stood empty for almost eight years, has been transformed into Enid Crossing shopping center.

The first two stores in the center, Rue21 and T.J.Maxx opened in November. A third store, PetSmart, will open Jan. 18.

The city of Enid had purchased the vacant building a couple of years ago, and in the summer, Hunt Properties, of Dallas, closed the more-than $1.75 million deal.

No. 6 — Earthquakes increase in the area.

The Enid area and northwest Oklahoma haven’t been immune to earthquakes. There have been many recorded over the decades in the area.

In 2013, though, it seemed the ground was shaking all the time, and no one yet has an answer as to why it’s happening.

It’s not just the Enid area, either. Oklahoma Geological Survey has recorded more than 2,000 earthquakes in the state this year.

Austin Holland, OGS research seismologist, said some of the activity may be the result of hydraulic fracturing or injection wells, but that’s not the only reason.

To help with its studies, OGS installed a seismometer near Carrier last summer.

Wednesday: The second installment of our top 10 stories, featuring stories one through five.